SANTA CLARA -- Richard Sherman stood at the podium after another performance for the ages, demanding your respect.

One thing, Richard. You’ve always had it.

Fire-take artists get paid to be both loud and inflammatory, but they don’t represent the strong and silent majority. Deep down, Sherman has to realize that’s the class that really matters.

Those folks know the 49ers cornerback is amazing and always has been.

Sherman certainly was during Saturday’s 27-10 victory over the Minnesota Vikings at Levi’s Stadium. His third-quarter interception was the pivot point that advanced the 49ers to the NFC Championship Game.

“I knew what the route was. I beat him to the spot,” Sherman said. “Kirk [Cousins] threw a very catchable ball and I appreciate it. I was able to make the play.”

That gave the 49ers strength to break backs on an eight-play, eight-run drive that ended the resistance.

It also was a reminder why no one throws at a 31-year-old two-plus years removed from an Achilles’ tendon tear. Bad things happen.

“Since I got in the league, in every category that matters to a corner, I'm No. 1 in completion percentages, interceptions, touchdowns against, yards, completion percentage, passer rating,” Sherman said. “If that was any other corner, it wouldn't even be a conversation. But I just get tired of it. In the playoffs, I played in 13 games now, zero touchdowns given up, three interceptions.

 

"Like, show me somebody else doing it like that. Then I'll enjoy the argument. But there isn't one.”

It’s clear Sherman has done his homework. The Stanford product is correct on all counts. He leads the league in every category he mentioned in his epic postgame diatribe extolling his own virtues.

Sherman spent considerable time reminding people of his awesomeness after Saturday’s win. He doesn’t need to. The numbers do that for him.

Let’s ignore, for a second, his place in history. Let’s focus on performance at his advanced age.

Sherman has been targeted 34 times in his last 13 games. According to analytics site Pro Football Focus, he has allowed 17 receptions for 130 yards, zero touchdowns and two interceptions. Sherman’s allowing 10 receiving yards per game. Again, for those in the back: 10 receiving yards per game.

Even the folks on “First Take” have to say "Wow."

Let’s not use the excuse of teams preferring to target other 49ers cornerbacks. Going at Sherman has proven as fruitless as ever.

He has allowed 27 receptions for 227 yards (all season!) on 51 targets, with one touchdown. Receivers average 8.4 yards per catch. Quarterbacks have a 46.8 passer rating against him.

“That’s ‘Sherm’ for you,” fellow cornerback Emmanuel Moseley said. “That’s just what he does.”

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Sherman wants you to know just how good he is, and there’s reason to crow. He has three picks and 11 passes defensed in 13 postseason games, most of them spent with the Seahawks. Many thought he was washed up after signing with the 49ers, but the second-team All-Pro keeps doing impactful things.

“Sherm’s still one of the greatest,” linebacker Dre Greenlaw said. “… It’s all a credit to a guy who has been in this game a long time and works incredibly hard and is still making plays like he did as a younger man.”